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 By Tom Adams

Arsenal having to fight Burnley for sixth highlights how far they've fallen

If there is one positive to be gleaned from the decrepit, depressing denouement of Arsene Wenger's reign, it is that Arsenal have exposed just how extensive the renewal project must be in the summer under a new manager.

Sunday's match against Burnley is Wenger's last home game as Arsenal manager and tributes are planned following the final whistle. However, Wenger reportedly wants to keep the fanfare to a minimum pre-match as Arsenal need to finish above their opponents to avoid having to qualify for the Europa League next season. Read that sentence back: a more perfect encapsulation of the club's recent decline could hardly be envisaged.

The performance in the 1-0 defeat to Atletico Madrid in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final on Thursday night was hardly apocalyptic but the loss over two legs still confirmed that this is undeniably Wenger's worst ever season as Arsenal manager. No trophy; an unseemly scrap to avoid seventh; no Champions League for a second year in a row; failing to get a single point away from home in 2018: these are all markers of a club in a nosedive.

And when, as is customary for the last home game of the season, the players undertake their lap of appreciation after the final whistle on Sunday, the scale of the rebuilding work which needs to be done will be made clear. The evidence was on display in Madrid, but in truth has been showcased across the season. Starting in goal.

David Ospina is no one's idea of a commanding shot-stopper and it hardly helps when he commits too early when one-on-one and manages to shrink in the striker's vision. Diego Costa twice benefited from this unfortunate trait last night -- scoring the second time around. Petr Cech should have started and the fact Wenger is not trusting him with the biggest games of the season is alarming. Whoever the new manager is, and whoever assists him with recruitment, a new keeper should be the No. 1 priority.

Arsene Wenger has endured the worst season of his 22-year reign at Arsenal.
This season has been a sobering reminder of just how far Arsenal have fallen in recent years under Arsene Wenger.

Events of the past 24 hours have also made a new centre-back a high priority too. Calum Chambers' excellent display from the bench was one of the plus points for Arsenal on a traumatic night, but the reason he was on the pitch at all is cause for deep concern.

When Laurent Koscielny collapsed off the ball and begun beating the turf, you knew he was in agony. There has been no firm diagnosis yet but if it is confirmed that he has ruptured his Achilles' tendon he will not be ready for the start of the new season.

Meanwhile, Konstantinos Mavropanos may have impressed in the defeat at Old Trafford last weekend but his promise cannot disguise the fact that Shkodran Mustafi is a liability. Arsenal cannot rely on either of their two senior centre-backs looking ahead to next season.

Despite Martin Keown's attack on Mesut Ozil, Arsenal are relatively blessed with competent forwards. The midfield will require some attention if Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere both end up leaving, but the big problems are clearly at the back where urgent surgery is required.

Troublingly, it is being reported that Wenger's successor will have only £50 million to spend -- a paltry amount in this era of transfer hyperinflation and hardly enough to lure a big-name replacement. Anyone surveying the squad bequeathed by Wenger, knowing there is only enough money to bring in one top-quality player, might think twice about taking that job on.

No doubt Sunday will be a chance for supporters to pay their respects after a 22-year reign which revolutionised a club and brought some unimaginable highs. Wenger deserves a generous reception having dedicated the best part of his working life to Arsenal.

But the truth will be impossible to avoid on a day when Arsenal battle Burnley for sixth. Arsenal are worse than they have ever been under Wenger and it will be a long trip back to the top.

Tom is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter @tomEurosport


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